DANVILLE – Charles J. Taylor, Aug. 3, 1928 - July 2, 2013.
Born on a warm Milwaukee day, Chuck began his story as the son of a Wisconsin dairy farmer in the small town of Owen, Wis. Florence Celia and John Henry Taylor were hard-working parents who invested their love well. They taught their son the values of working hard, being a good neighbor and developing his Christian relationship. His father was a Mason and his mother was sure to have him in church every Sunday. His dad told him "Being a Mason makes a good man better", and John Henry's proudest moment was when Chuck became a Mason himself.
Being a "small" town, Chuck attended the one-room Beehive schoolhouse, where there were three students in his class. Growing up in cold Wisconsin winters, he remembered dressing in the kitchen next to the wood stove and taking care of business quickly in the outhouse, especially when there was snow on the seat. Eventually they enjoyed the luxury of having running water installed in their little two-room home. His mother died when he was 9 years old, leaving him surrounded by the men in his young life. Chuck grew up with his Grandpa Taylor, who originally purchased the dairy farm, and his Grandpa Jackson, who was always available for a game of cards. Their values and humor were a part of his growing up that would always bring a smile to his face when he would share their stories with the family.
After graduating from Owen High School in May 1945 he traveled to Milwaukee on Aug. 14 to enlist in the Army. On that date, while he was waiting in line at registration, they announced V.J. Day, Victory over Japan, and everyone was sent home as they were no longer needed. Since he was not able to enlist as planned, he had to make a quick decision about his future. He was certain that he did not want to be a dairy farmer!
He decided to attend the University of Wisconsin - River Falls, and started his major in math and chemistry. After a particularly difficult class in Integral Calculation, he decided perhaps math was not such a good idea, and changed his major to Chemistry.
Since dormitories did not exist at River Falls, he lived in the home of Mildred and Paul Bretz, who was a Navy man. It is there that Chuck learned to play the old sailor card game of Cribbage. He taught his daughters and grandchildren and was always ready to play a game.
While at River Falls, he was able to work for his meals, along with dozens of other men who ate daily in the kitchen of "Ma" Journey. Meals were served family style, and when a seat opened up the next man in line took that place on the bench. She was mother to them all, and the home is now a campus ministry that still serves dollar-dinners for students on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month.
Chuck's loyal and abiding faith led him to a special relationship with his church pastor, the Rev. Keenan "Pop" Sheldon and his wife, "Mom" Sheldon.
After graduating from River Falls, he followed his calling and his pastor to St. Paul, Minn., where he had his first job as a chemist working for 3M. During this time in St. Paul, a young Christian lady attending Macalester College attracted his full attention. He was determined to convince Mary Ann Laughlin to spend the rest of their lives together square dancing, playing bridge, gardening and raising a strong Christian family. He married the love of his life on Sept. 25, 1954, at Olivet Congregational Church, St. Paul, Minn. He often said his family was his greatest success.
A new opportunity in Chicago had Chuck and Mary starting another chapter of their lives together. This manufacturing company, Teepak, grew quickly and a new facility was needed. Chuck was one of seven people from the Chicago company assigned to the planning group to build a new plant in Danville, Ill.
Chuck spoke about the early days of Teepak, before the parking lot was paved, when it was referred to as "Mud-Pak". He stayed with Teepak 35 years, and retired in 1990.
Chuck's values and personality were strongly influenced by his relationships with his friends and co-workers. Even after his retirement he remained active with his many friends from work, and enjoyed the Teepak Retiree activities a great deal.
Chuck refused to accept the definition of retirement as an end to his story. Instead, he preferred to define it as a transition to another calling. Chuck felt very strongly about keeping active, as well as giving back to his church and community. He was very active in his beloved church, St. James United Methodist Church, in the 1970s as a youth counselor and then on just about every committee they could get him to serve on.
He once agreed to take a rotating job for two months to be the person greeting people on Sunday mornings as they arrived. He felt a strong need to serve and chose to stay in this job beyond the two months, and continued in this capacity for over 50 years. His weekly objective was to greet every person attending, call them by name and to shake their hand if possible.
After retirement he became very active in the Noon Kiwanis Club and was the top ticket-seller for many years. He enjoyed playing tennis until he was 80 with his friends at the Danville Tennis Center, and he volunteered yearly at the Festival of Trees, the NJCAA Basketball Tournament, and of course the Kiwanis Pancake Day. He also was a Red Vest volunteer at Provena United Samaritans Hospital, and recorded 4,775 volunteer hours.
Perhaps because Chuck lost his mother at an early age, God blessed him by surrounding him with four caring women, his wife, Mary, and their three daughters, Lynn Louise (Scott) White of St. Charles, Mo., Laurie Ann (John) Dorn of Munster, Ind., and Kathy Jean (Michael) Kidwell of Danville, Ill. Chuck and Mary had seven grandchildren, including Kristen (Andy) Blacksher, Brian White, Anna Dorn, Andrew Dorn, Ellie Dorn, Matthew Kidwell and Kaley Kidwell. He loved his family, and has dearly missed his wife and best friend Mary Taylor since she passed in June 2011.
He was a Christian man and cared deeply about others. Everyone who knew Chuck Taylor experienced firsthand how quick he was to greet you with a sincere smile and a warm handshake. Our question now is when Chuck met Jesus last Tuesday … who was greeting whom first?
Visitation with the family will be Friday, July 5, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Sunset Funeral Home, 3940 N. Vermilion St, Danville. His funeral will be at 4 p.m. Saturday, July 6, at St. James United Methodist Church, 504 N. Vermilion St, Danville. Memorials may be made to St. James United Methodist Church.